Staff sickness and absences are a reality for any business. The unpredictable nature of sickness and absences can make it difficult to avoid disruption to operations so it’s crucial to ensure that they are carefully managed.
The importance of monitoring
For any business, keeping track of the number of days that staff take off sick or out of the office is going to be important. And for smaller businesses it’s crucial to understanding what’s happening in the workforce. Whether you monitor manually or with software, make sure you’re keeping track of when staff are sick or absent. Are there any patterns that emerge – such as an increase during the school holidays? This could be an indication that all is not as it seems.
If you notice that some staff are taking a lot of sick days or are often absent then it’s important to make contact to find out why. There could be a genuine and serious sickness behind their lack of presence at work or this could be more to do with being unhappy in a role. It’s also important to maintain contact with anyone on sick leave so that you’re appraised of their progress and you know when they are likely to return to work.
The issue of pay
Employees have a right to Statutory Sick Pay for absences of three days or more but there is no legal entitlement for shorter periods. Statutory Sick Pay entitlement is for a maximum of 28 days and employers can pay more than the statutory rate but not less. Whether you choose to pay your employees for sick days over and above what the law requires will depend on company policy – this should be clearly written into contracts so that there is no confusion.
Handling staff taking short term sick leave
Short-term sick leave can be particularly problematic for employers, especially if the leave is taken frequently but never for more than a day or so at a time. This can be incredibly disruptive for others in the workplace. The first step is to establish whether there is an underlying condition that is necessitating the absences. If there is nothing that connects the absences then it’s worth speaking to the employee to see if there is another reason. After that it may be necessary to see whether the employee is in breach of the company absence policy.
Dealing with staff on long term sick leave
Many employers dread having to deal with a situation where an employee is on long-term sick leave. This can leave a team depleted but employers must be careful about the action taken – it’s important to ensure you follow the contract you have with that employee. Get as much information as you can about the reason for sickness and make sure you are provided with medical evidence about the employee’s condition and whether they might be fit to return to work – and when. Decisions about how to handle an employee on long-term sick leave should be made on the basis of medical information provided and the contract in place.
Our Managing Sickness and Absences course is designed to support the effective management of a business dealing with sick days and absences. Get in touch with PTP today to book your place.